“IT MUST BE IN THE WATER”

“It Must Be In the Water” 
 

“From Brooklyn to Queens”


Living in Brooklyn in the fifties was a short stay for me. I lived on Stagg Street, in the Williamsburg section from when I was born in 1953 to 1957. We lived over a grocery store in a railroad flat apartment. Spent a lot of time outside on the street playing while my mother hung out the window to keep an eye on me. After all I was just three or four. Yeah, you could do that back then.

My Mom’s friends, Frenchy and Martha, lived down the street. We would visit them a lot over the years. As they sat around and drank coffee and talked, I was downstairs on the stoop hanging out with Dirty Joanie.

After we moved to Middle Village, we came back to Brooklyn a lot to visit, go shopping on Moore Street, go to the dentist and visit my grandmother who lived on Grand Street. On Grand Street was the fish store and they had the best French Fries.
We would get a dollars worth in a brown paper bag.

We visited Frenchy and Martha a lot. Dirty Joanie lived on Stagg Street as well. She always had a dirty face and well worn clothes. Cute little blonde girl. We were only five or six but we would sit behind the house and kiss. I have a very strong memory of this. I guess it made a big impression on me, as most of the girls in my life did.

We made the move from Stagg Street in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn to 79th Street in Middle Village, Queens, in the summer of 1957. My uncle Benny (my fathers’ brother) owned the house that he rented to my Uncle Ralph and Aunt Millie and my cousins, Roseann, Carol and Linda. They lived in the downstairs apartment and we were gonna live upstairs.

The first friend I made was John who lived down the block, about four houses down. John was sick as a kid, not sure what was wrong and have since either forgotten or was never told. I’m bettin’ that I forgot. First time we met he was in his bathrobe hangin’ out on his stoop. We just started talking and became best friends from then on.

John was a mechanic even back then. His back porch was filled with bicycle parts. Frames, tires, gears, hand brakes, handle bars and tools. We took our bikes everywhere. Rode all over Middle Village, Juniper Park on our side of the Avenue, Nick. and Andy’s on the other side of the Avenue, machine gun hill, crematory hill, the zig zag (the zig zag was a walkway up to the overpass on 80th street as you went to Glendale, the walkway zigged and zagged so you could ride up and down it, hence the name) and all points in between.

We started riding further, Forest Park, Forest Hills and one time all the way to Kissina Park. That was a long ride way past Flushing. We took our bikes to the Worlds Fair in Flushing Meadow. Chained them up, under the highway, climbed the fence and went to the fair.

We took our bikes, again to Flushing Meadow, but in the winter this time and came across a frozen lake. Came up with the bright idea of riding our bikes across the frozen lake. Thought nothing of it as we were doing it. It wasn’t until we were older when we thought back on that did we realize that was a dumbass thing to do.

I had made several friends on 79th street. John lived down the block, Davey lived up the block, so did Joan and Mike and Cathy lived around the corner. When they razed the florist across the street and built these ugly houses, Carl and Richie moved in with Eddie and Ed. We had enough for some good street softball games. Although the majority of playing street ball was with a Spaldeen.

Growing up in the sprawling city suburbs of concrete, brick and asphalt, kids play street games. Games that have been passed down from the previous street kids and the street kids before them. As I've seen over the years these games are played in every city and town and are a little different as you go. In Middle Village, Queens, NYC, the corner of 66th Drive and 79th Street was the convergence for all the street games we played. That happened to be my corner.

My house was exactly in the middle of all my friends’ houses and my stoop became the local hangout. During the day we played, stoop ball, Single Double Triple, box ball and handball. At night we played hide and seek or just hung out listening to the radio. Somebody always had a ball in his or her hands. The two rubber balls to have were a Pensey Pinky and a Spalding. Spalding was pronounced, Spaldeen, I really don't know why either. The Pensey was used for Punch Ball and handball because it was smooth. The Spaldeen was used for SDT and stickball, usually because it was rock hard and rough to the touch.

You couldn't play StoopBall on every stoop, the stoop had to be just right. On my block there were three stoops that were acceptable StoopBall playing stoops.

Number one was The Reineke Stoop, this was the stoop where the records of old were established and endured throughout the years. Let me explain how the stoops on my block were set up. The sidewalk began at the curb, the first four feet was grass, at least in front of my house it was. The next eight feet was two four foot squares on concrete leading up to my red brick stoop.    My stoop had four steps, the optimum number of steps in my humble opinion, for stoop ball. You had to stand behind the line after the second square of concrete. You were allowed to put one foot over the line, but only the wimps did that. You played by throwing the ball, either one of the aforementioned balls were acceptable, at the stoop. If the ball came back to you on the fly, it was ten points, if it came back on a bounce, it was five points. If the ball hit the point (the edge)  of one of the steps of the stoop and you caught it on the fly, it was 100 points and was appropriately called a pointer. But if you dropped a pointer, and picked it up after one bounce, it was still five points, providing you only let it bounce once. Either way, you felt like shit dropping a pointer.

Stoopball was played with however many people wanted to play. You took turns until the first one reached 1000. When you missed, the other person went, and so on. There were times though when you 'went for the record'. This was done by one person playing until he or she missed. When they missed, that was their record. The record for the block was set on Reineke's stoop (see above), by the previous generation and was lost in the street folklore. I suspect if you tear down the new houses across the street, you'll find the Dead Street Scrolls where these were recorded for prosperity. My record was 1070. I attempted the record many other times but never made it. Another form of stoopball was Single, Double, Triple.

Single, Double, Triple (SDT from now on, cause I'm too lazy to spell it all out) was best played with a Spaldeen, although due to the quality nature of the Pensy Pinky, that was acceptable also. What you couldn’t use was one of those dime balls that were usually yellow or blue. They didn't bounce for shit so you gave them to the little kids. Playing SDT was pretty basic. You stood off to the side of the stoop and threw the ball at the stoop as hard as you could. If the ball cleared the sidewalk and made it to the street and bounced once, it was a single, twice a double, three times a triple...you get the picture.

Across the street from my stoop was a five-foot wall and if the ball made it over the wall on the fly, it was a home run.

Then you had to jump the wall and get the ball before the old lady saw you. Her name was Wrinkles. That was the feature that made my house the best for SDT, the Wall. We were lucky then because there were no cars parked there to interfere with playing SDT. As the years wore on more cars filled the street, the game faded into oblivion.

At night we played, Hide and Seek or I Declare War. We took our Hide and Seek games very seriously. We always wore black and hid in the shadows, alleys, garage roofs and backyards to avoid detection.

When we weren’t playing games, we were makin’ out. Usually when the summer rolled around, me and Joan wound up makin’ out all summer long. The next year, me and Cathy would make out. It went on like that for a lot of years.

One summer we decided to fix up Mike’s rooms above his garage, in the back of his house. We painted it, hung street signs that we took off the telephone poles and basically made it a place to hang out, get drunk and make out. By this time I was going out with Gerri, Joan was dating Denis, and Cathy was dating Richie. Mike made a strobe light out of an old phonograph player and a beer tray with holes cut out and colored flood lights. Worked great, set the mood for some wild drunken parties.

“The Times they are a Changin’”

Things changed after me and Gerri broke up. 1969-70 New Years Eve was a turning point for me. I was starting to meet new people and moving away from childhood friends. The link to these new friends was a classmate, Louie Pelos. I'd known Louie almost all of Junior High and he was in a band, Sacred Paradise. Louie told  me about a gig they had in the City. The band participated in a contest and wound up doing a gig at Carnegie Hall, with Cousin Brucie and a bunch of other bands, in a battle of the bands type thing. They didn't win but came in second or third.

So on the way home, we had a crowd on the subway. We met lotsa new people and had a great time. It was Louie who insisted that Bob Calamia and me come hang out on New Years Eve. And you know, I don't remember seeing Louie anytime during that night.

I was supposed to go and see Hendrix in the City doing his Band of Gypsy's Tour. I ended up in Mike Mallon's basement under a table in an eternal lip lock with Tina Martin. I don't remember how I got there and I didn't know Tina was Mike Manna's girlfriend either. In fact I didn’t know Tina until that night. No one informed me that Tina was Mike’s girlfriend.  Mike was the lead singer in Louie's band. I don't remember how I met Tina that night, but we wound up together. We were lying under a table making out the entire night. That night I also met a soon to be best friend, Peter Rossini.


After Mallon's party, me and Peter walked to Debbie's house where Tina was. This was an undertaking since Mallon lived on one side of Middle Village and Debbie lived in Woodhaven. So as we walked, we became friends. We talked about music mostly, the Allman Brothers Band, The Dead. Peter was a musician also; he played bass as well as rhythm guitar.

Peter wound up in a band with Tina as lead singer called Prodigy. Paul Capobianco was on drums and Fran Sheehan played bass. We also talked about girls and Frye boots as we were both wearing a pair while we were walking and freezing our toes off. Peter was also a National Lampoon fan. We used to get a copy of the mag and sit for hours reading and laughing our asses off. Peter introduced me to Zappa and played for me one night in PA, around three o’clock in the morning, Billy the Mountain, and for that I'm eternally grateful. Peter was one of the ones who didn't make it. He hung himself while on the road doing a gig. Over a girl.

The one thing that made growing up in Middle Village special, was the music. Either you were in a band, or knew someone in a band. We had several bands, Sacred Paradise being the most popular, there was also Prodigy which had Tina as the lead singer and Peter on guitar, Carl on organ, Ronnie Mutone's band with Joey Occutto on lead vocals and my band with me on bass, Louie on organ (he got kicked out of Sacred Paradise, more on that later) and Bob on drums.


So almost every weekend someone was playing somewhere. Sacred Paradise had a steady gig at a bar in Glendale called The Kozy Korner. They played almost every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and we all were there. We would always get the closest table to the band and party till around 2AM. They would make these great roast beef sandwiches when eaten at 2AM was the best. Not to mention the numerous Harvey Wallbangers.

Well, back to Mike Manna's girlfriend Tina. I knew that night that me and Tina wasn't going to happen. What I didn't know is, what was Mike Manna going to do about this, er...indiscretion. Rumours started flying around that Mike found out about Tina and me on New Years Eve and wanted to see me. I didn't avoid him but he found me on the avenue one day and all he said was "Thanks for taking care of Tina for me", I said "No problem". And that was that.

Somehow we got St. Margaret's to allow us to have a coffee house on Saturday nights. This was right after Pelos got thrown out of Sacred Paradise. It was a raw deal, Anthony Orsano was best friends with Paul Capobianco who played drums just like Louie. Louie has a single bass and Paul had a double bass. Paul was a very good drummer but Louie had a wicked off beat that really got your attention. This was their first public gig. Sacred Paradise was an excellent band, cover tunes mostly but thats what everyone wanted. They opened with "Heartbreaker" from Grand Funk Railroad and it was awesome. Paul's double bass really filled in a lot and provided a lot of backbeat. Live music! It was Great!

Our band played a battle of the bands at St. Bridgets in Glendale. We crammed our tiny setup on half of a stage and opened up with The Stones’ “The Last Time”. I think we did Steppenwolf's, “Born to be Wild” also. We came in dead last. Got a check for 25 bucks. As it turned out our PA had a problem so most of the vocals were lost. It was our first public gig and we sucked. We also played  a confraternity dance at St. Pancras, that went better as we had gotten a really good guitar player who filled in a lot with great riffs. Our band broke up and I never really played again.

“Hangin’ Out”

The following is an account of what growing up was like in Middle Village, Queens, NY during the late sixties and throughout the seventies. It was a different time back then, drugs were commonplace and the selling of drugs was widespread.

We all hung out on the avenue, Metropolitan Ave. In Middle Village. Well that was one of the places we hung out. Either at the coffee shop, Carlo's Pizza, LaRochccio's Candy Store or Brennan park. The coffee shop was where we all went after school. We'd all pile in and get french fries and cokes. Mrs. Rogers who was behind the counter would always say, "If ya ain't buyin', out!” She meant well and really didn't hassle us at all.

At night it was the candy store around 6PM and finally Carlo's later on. There was so many people hanging out from the same crowd it was really something special. The candy store was on a corner, and one side ran down 78th street. This was where we hung out. All our cars would pull up and park, leave the doors open, tune into 102.7, WNEW-FM and party. Most of the drug dealin' was done at Brennan Park, but some was done on this corner. Ann and Loretta would sell goof-balls, me and Danny sold Angel Dust for awhile and everyone would drink and smoke pot. Pot was the drug of choice for most people. We all had great connections for good pot and everybody got high. In fact, getting high was our full time occupation.

As the night wore on, we would all spread out in our nocturnal endeavors. Some would go to someone's basement to listen to music, others would just disappear into the night only to reappear later at the pizza place. Most would just cruise around listening to the radio and getting high.

By the time people would start driftin' up to Carlo's Pizza, they were good and buzzed and dyin' for some pizza. Weasel was the guy behind the counter. I guess his name wasn't Weasel but I didn't have a clue and nobody asked him. Carlo's had a juke box with some decent music with lotsa bass. The first to arrive would get the table with the peace sign. This particular table somebody smashed with something heavy. The resulting crack in the table looked remarkably like a peace sign. It was a sign.

We hung out in Carlo's for a long time at night. Everyone would find their way there eventually. When we got booted out, by the cops or by Carlo himself, we sat on the steps next to Carlo's.

We would always get harassed by the cops for hangin' out in bunches. They were always hasslin' us to move it. One day when there was way too many people on the steps, the cops drove by on another call. They saw us all there, but couldn't stop, all they could do is shake their fists at us while we laughed and waved back at them. One cop said, "I'm gonna get you guys one day!". He never did.mv.jpg

Hangin' out on The Avenue seemed like the thing to do. On one cold night we were standing in front of Jamron's Drug Store around 4:30 in the morning. Just hangin' out, smokin' joints. It was cold, but we were in no hurry to go anywhere. We watched a guy come up from 74th street and start walking on the avenue towards where we were standing, as he got closer, we saw it was Mike Mallon. He strolls up next to us and hangs out. We look at him and say, "What's up Mike?", he says "I figured somebody be hangin' out...". That's the way it was.

Brennan Park was a small kids park, inside Juniper Park. It had a Parkie house, swings, sandbox seesaws, you get the picture. It also had a bunch of concrete chess tables and benches right in front, curbside, left of the Parkie House.

Sittin at the park, you witnessed the most amazing events unfold right before your eyes. The night Danny popped the clutch on his Triumph, the bike stood straight up in the air on one wheel, then came down and took off like a shot. Lookin like he planned the whole thing.

Another night a car came flyin down the street towards the park and tried to make the left on 74th Street, the car slammed into the telephone pole and creased in the middle, if the car would've hit any harder the front bumper would've met the back bumper enclosing the pole. These guys were fucked up, the guy in the back flew from one side of the car to the other and smashed his head, the guy in the front passenger seat was stuck in the twisted metal that tried valiantly to resemble a door. His foot was stuck and he kept tryin to pull his foot free. I figured if he did that, he would come up with a bloody stump. We kept yellin at him to not move till the ambulance guys got there. He pulled it anyway but it wouldn't come free.

We used to load up my 55 Chrysler with people and beer and head for the jogging track in Juniper Park, next to the train tracks. When fifty to seventy five people hang out together its a wondrous thing. When they all get high together it could get real scary, not really for us but for other people who didn't like kids all fucked up hanging around. One night the train stopped and we busted opened one of the box cars and low and behold there was beer. Warm beer but it was beer. Everybody drank beer that night.




“The Concerts”

The Beatles at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium - 1965

This was my first concert ever. I went with my cousins and my mother. I was twelve years old. I wore a ratty Beatle wig with all these gigantic Beatle buttons pinned to it. Patty Garrett, who also came along with us grabbed hold of me hoping we’d get noticed by the news or something. I always liked Patty but she was way too old for me.

We had to park very far away from the Tennis Stadium. Barricades were set up 10 blocks from the Stadium. If you didn’t have a ticket or didn’t live there, you were not getting close to the concert.

We didn’t have very good seats, but it didn’t matter. When the helicopter landed, the crowd started screaming and didn’t stop until the show was over and the Beatles left.

They played for thirty minutes, and I don’t remember one song they played and they were gone.

The Beatles at Shea, 1965


We got these tickets when we were out on the island vacationing at Mastic Beach, Long Island. A friend of the family got them for nothing. Unbelievable!

My cousin Sophie had broken her leg playing soccer in the rain, so we showed up at the show with her on crutches. I knew our seats were good but I didn’t know how good until I got there. Since Sophie looked like a hospital escapee, and the concert staff noticed where the seats were, they figured us for somebody important. Security at the Stadium, whisked us in, past the crowds and right to our seats. The seats were right on the rail, behind first base. Literally the best seats in the house. We were able to scoop up handfuls of dirt from the field. The stage was on second base.

Sound systems in 1965 were crude in large venues like Shea Stadium. There were speakers evenly spaced up and down the first and third base lines, you could see them on those "Beatles at Shea" videos. There were amps onstage along with Ringo’s drums.

It was truly an amazing sight. I had been to Shea to see the Mets play, but this was something completely different. As we sat waiting for the show we took in all the sights around us. Cops everywhere, hundreds of photographers and Ed Sullivan.

I was leaning on the first base dugout when Ed Sullivan walked out and just stood there looking around. I was yelling his name, trying to get him to turn around so I could snap his picture. Finally a cop yelled at him for me, he turned, waved and I took his picture. A thrill for a 12 year old.

When the Beatles ran out of the third base dugout to the stage, the place went nuts. Thousands of flashes went off and the static of screams filled the air. Girls fainted and didn’t wake up until it was all over, one or two people ran towards the stage, but the cops grabbed them. John was amused at that.

They played for 30 minutes and were gone. This one I remember.

Mountain at the Fillmore East, 1971

I went with my girlfriend Joanie. Opening act was Tyrannosaurus Rex with Marc Bolan, the guy who electrocuted himself onstage some years later. The Fillmore was an old movie house converted into a concert hall. An excellent place to see a show.
Mountain opened with Never in my Life off the Mountain Climbing album and never let up. They went right into Mississippi Queen, Animal Trainer and the Toad and Theme for an Imaginary Western. Leslie West had his flyin’ V guitar which blew everyone away. Halfway through the show, Leslie did the Underture from the Tommy album and everybody went nuts.

Kate and Anna McGarrigle at The Bottom Line

I heard Kate and Anna on WNEW-FM on the Jonathan Schwartz show. They just released their first album in 1976. The song they played a lot was “Kiss and Say Goodbye”.


I played that album a lot. When I met my wife, Margaret in 1977, she heard the song and immediately fell in love with the line, ...don’t nowhere its coming from I wanna kiss you till my mouth gets numb”

So I made sure I would get tickets when and if they came to NYC. Well they did and we went. They were on SNL that week as well. Excellent show, very intimate. Saw them again in NYC almost thirty years later. Just as good and just as intimate.


The Who at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium


Went to this show with Loretta. The Who’s Next album was due to be released soon and it was the first time I heard “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.

It was a stormy night with rain coming down. The band played through the lightning and thunder anyway.

If I remember correctly the last song they played was “Magic Bus”. On the last note, Pete windmilled and smashed his guitar into the floor then tossed it into the crowd as Keith kicked over his drums.

A memorable show.

The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, The Band.
Watkins Glen
Took the VW up to Watkins Glen to see The Dead, The Allman Brothers and The Band. There were 600,000 people there. The bikers were racing around the track and there were stands set up to buy pot, pills and just about anything you needed. No hassles with the law.

We got there and got a pretty good position to see the bands. At dusk, the night before the concert was to officially start, members of all three bands came out and played a very long version of Wharf Rat. Great show.

Eric Clapton at the Nassau Coliseum
Took Cindy to see Clapton on Long Island. I brought my 35mm camera and my tripod and snapped this picture. This was taken during Layla. Great show.

Aerosmith at the Orlando Arena. Joan Jett Opens


Went to see Aerosmith and Joan Jett was the opener. This was a great show. Joan was fantastic and Aerosmith blew us away. I went with my friends from the program. Knowing that Tyler and Perry were in Recovery we made up a sign, “We’re in Recovery too, we’re proud of you” It was a long sign that we rolled up and would display it at the right time.

We had pretty good floor seats. Close enough to the stage. We waited the through the whole show, then after the encore the house lights came up. I said “Now!”.

We rolled it out and held it up over our heads. Stephen Tyler saw it and yelled over to Joe Perry, who was walking off the stage, “Hey Joe” he said.
Perry turned around, they both saw the banner and bowed to us with a tip of the hat.
Best time ever.


Pink Floyd at Roosevelt Field, NJ


Took Charles to see Pink Floyd at Roosevelt Field in NJ. First time seeing them. They had speakers all around the stadium. When the opening heartbeat from Dark Side started, it moved all around the stadium. They played the whole album straight through. They played Echoes and Shine on you crazy diamond. Which is when I snapped this picture.

Springsteen at Various Venues

Saw Springsteen at the Garden, the Brendan Byrne in NJ, and the Spectrum in PA. What can I say about these shows that haven’t been already said.  Four hour concerts, every song you can think of and some you didn’t think of. Best shows ever and Santa Claus is Coming to Town in PA.

Meatloaf at the Capital Theatre in NJ

Meatloaf at the Capitol in NJ. Soon after Bat Out of Hell was released. Already having problems with his voice but the show was outstanding.
Renaissance at the Felt Forum, the 70s

Heard them first on WNEW FM. “Can You Understand? Played a lot. Ashes are Burning, Mother Russia. Annie sang beautifully. Saw them again years later in Orlando at the Plaza. Sounded just as good.

Alanis Morissette at The Bob Carr in Orlando, 1996
The Jagged Little Pill Tour

Fell in love with this album when it was released. I was psyched she was gonna play the Bob Carr. I went online and found a ticket broker. Paid $100 and got one ticket, 10th row center.

She was a ball of energy on stage. Always moving, from one side of the stage to the other. Started the show with “All I Really Want” and the intensity never let up.

This one one of the loudest shows I’ve ever attended. The whole place was standing throughout the show.

In all the shows I’ve been to, this one is my number one favorite.



Alanis Morissette at The Bob Carr in Orlando, 2005
The Jagged Little Pill Acoustic Tour

Took Kathleen and Kylee to this one. It was almost 10 years from the first time I’ve seen her. A much more mellower show but never lacking the intensity.

“The Cars”

My first car was a 1955 Chrysler. Given to me by my cousin Paulie, It was a great first car. I remember getting on the bus to Motor Vehicles and on the way back holding the plates in my   hand feeling the smooth raised letters and just dieing to put them on. I did just that when I got home and immediately picked up my girlfriend Joanie and her girlfriend Christine. It was so cool to be driving down the street and see your girlfriend for the first time in your car. I put 35 miles on that car in that first night.

I was one of the first in the crowd to have a workin car we could all get in and go places. One time we packed my Chrysler with people and headed toward the city. We were getting on the Queensboro Bridge, when I got screwed up and wound up going up a one way, only it was the wrong way. About a zillion pairs of lights were headed straight for us. All I could do was just ride it out telling everyone, "Don't worry they see us" we made it all right. Gradually everyone got cars. Christine got a 66 Dodge Dart, Bob got a Chevy Mailbu, Joseph had a black VW then his blue 396 Chevelle, Ann had a red VW, Fran had a 69 Road Runner then a 72 Chevy, John had a 64 Chevelle.
I had a 55 Chrysler, 59 Mercury, 60 Chevy, 62 Olds 98, 66 Ford galaxy convertible, 72 VW, and some I can't remember.


We hung out for a time at LaRocchio's candy store on the corner of Metropolitan Ave and 78th street. This was a good corner as it was right on Metropolitran Ave and you could see everyone coming and going. Cars started pulling up around six and didn't leave till well after nine. Parking on the corner was great, it was usually empty so everyone's car could fit right in behind each others. We would open the doors, put on 102.7, WNEW-FM and hang out.

One night I was with Fran Sheehan coming down Metro from the Lutheran Cemetery. Fran was drunk and we were both...er 'impaired'. We passed six cars in front of the Arion movie house and blasted through all the lights and made a left on 79th street. This was before the streets were one ways. What we didn't notice was the cops parked on LaRocchio's corner. As we were flyin up 79th, the cops were screaming behind us, sirens and lights flashing. As luck would have it we had to stop at 79th and Juniper and when we did the carborator caught fire. I immediately seized on that. We jumped out of the car, popped the hood and began beating the carb to put out the fire. Meanwhile the cops were out of their car and coming towards us. They wanted to know what possessed us to speed down Metro and run the red light. I told them we noticed the flames under the hood and were trying to get off the avenue. They asked Fran for his license and registration.

The cop kept calling Fran, Francis which was how it was stated on his Driver's License. Fran did not like to be called Francis and since he was drunk, he kept trying to make a point to the cop not to call him Francis. I told Fran to let the cop call him whatever he liked but Fran was having no part of it. Finally, the cop gave us a warning to get off the street for the rest of the night. No ticket. We lucked out. Joseph and I wouldn't be so lucky.

Me and Joseph were coming back from Rocky Point one night in his Blue Cadillac. We would often drive out to Rocky Point for the night or the weekend to hang out. We were in Nassau County on The Expresway doing about 80mph in the left hand lane. We were high and smoking out of Joe's favorite pipe. All of a sudden, lights and sirens and a cop on a speaker telling us to pull over. I had to think fast. We had about an eighth of an ounce and the pipe, I stuffed the pipe way down in the front seat cushions of the Cadillac. Joseph kept telling me to toss everything out the window, but I knew if I did this the cop behind me would see it. As Joe pulled from the left lane to the center lane to the right lane I still had the pot. I was thinking if I throw it on the side of the road we may be able to get it when the cops leave. As Joe pulled onto the shoulder, the right side of the car jumped the curb and I tossed the baggie. Then we stopped.


The inside of the car reeked of Pot. A cop came over and stuck his head inside the car and inhaled. He screamed at Joe told him he's getting a ticket for going 80 mph then screamed at me I'm going to jail for tossing the Pot out the window. He told us to get out, When we got out, there were three squad cars and six cops, some were looking for the bag I tossed others were standing there with their hands on their guns. They began to search the car. Joseph started wiggin out when I told him I didn't toss the pipe. It was our favorite Pot pipe, I just couldn't trash it.

The cops didn't find the pipe and let us go after writing Joseph a ticket. We smoked what was left in the pipe on the way home.


I guess our identities were wrapped up on our cars. Everyone who had a car cruised through the neighborhood. We would pass each other, yell at each other, sometimes pull over. park and jump in one car to smoke a joint.


We always had good pot. One of my favorite things to do was cruise around and smoke and listen to the radio. Then I would see someone walking, a friend, ask them if they needed a ride. They'd get in, I'd get them so fucked up on pot they were useless to go anywhere and usually forgot where they were headed. I always kept my pot in a cigar box under my seat in my VW. People would see my VM parked somewhere, get in, roll a joint and them move on. It was the least I could do. When I didn't have any pot left under the seat, they would search the ask tray for a big roach, there was always plenty there.


After the '69 Blue Chevelle, the '69 Green Chevelle, the '72 Cadoo, there was The Van. The Van was yellow at first until Joey painted it black with a finish so deep you could bury your hand in it. This picture was taken at the summer house in PA. You could see the house in the reflection of the van.
had a blue '69 Chevelle which he totaled out one night driving through the cemetary on Metropolitan Ave. John had a '64 Chevelle. Everyone in the neighborhood always wanted John and Joseph to race. It never happened although one night at Connectin' Highway they came close but both let up as they came out of the hole.

“Connectin’  Highway”

"I got a sixty-nine Chevy with a 396, fuely heads and a Hurst on the floor..." Racing in the Streets by Bruce Springsteen, from Darkness on the Edge of Town
There's a section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in New York City, the BQE. thats different from all other parts of the BQE. The highway, for the most part, runs along and above the ground throughout two of the busiest, of the five boroughs in New York. Although, the only borough that can be considered less busier than the others is Staten Island, which I am convinced if you tore down the Verrazano - Narrows Bridge, it would just float away. Be that as it may, the BQE near Jackson Heights in Queens, the highway goes below ground. That is to say, that the highway is below street level. A hundred foot wall, on each side looms up towards the street. An overpass connects the service roads on either side, with steel railings aong the entire section. The highway is below ground for about a half a mile and runs straight as an arrow for a quarter of a mile. Then the highway continues on towards the Triboro Bridge.

New York City expressway traffic very rarely eases up. Even during the late hours the highways are teaming with cars and trucks. Cabs by the score ferry travelers to and from LaGuardia and Kennedy Airports. So its hard to understand that this is one of the two hot spots for street racing in Queens.

On any given Friday or Saturday night, in the summer, approximately two thousand people will line the steel railings above the highway to watch the street legal and not so street legal race cars take their turn along that quarter mile that is Connectin' Highway.

The quarter mile is marked on the walls with spray paint, its the distance berween the two overpasses. Two cars would enter from the entrance ramp and slow to a stop under the first overpass. Someone would jump out and count off the two cars. The entire Brooklyn-Queens expressway would come to a stop. Anticipation amoung the crowd would begin to surge. Horns from outraged motorists would fill the night. The flag comes down and two cars scream towards the quarter mile marker. They both exit at the next exit ramp and make their circle around to the waiting crowd to congratulate the winner or console the loser. Someone may have just lost their registration.

It's hard to say how the races were setup. Sometimes its just a nod of the head of one driver to another. Other times the drivers are told by other people who set the race up for them. And sometimes, someone talks some trash during the weeks and throws a showdown for Friday night.

To stand above the highway and watch the races were exciting. But to sit in a 396 1969 Chevelle, on the line, waiting for the flag to drop is something entirely different.
The time is right for racing in the streets.

“The Girls”

I went out with Marie LaRocca for a short amount of time. We used to meet Bernadette and Marie at Carlos Pizza after school. I don't remember much about going out with Marie, other than she had the softest lips I've ever kissed. They were lips on a face I just fell into completely. I really enjoyed being with her. We broke up after awhile and I have no idea why.

The first time I met Joanie was in front of the coffee shop. I fell head over heels in love with Joanie. Everybody liked her. She was my first girlfriend I had a car with. I picked up Joanie and Christine the very first day I got my plates for my 55 Chrysler. We drove all over that night. Me and Joanie would make out all the time in that car. It was so good for parking. I had alot of cars back then and Joanie was in all of them. I had a '60 Chevy once and me and Joanie were driving around and I saw a cop car. I had gotten stopped about five times that week already so I was prepared. As the cop rolled up I had my license and reggy out the window for him. He said, "What are you a wise guy?". Turns out someone who looked like me (long hair) with a blonde just robbed a store. Go figure.

I had a '59 Merc with an extra large back seat. And a '62 Olds 98, then a '65 Ford Galaxy and finally my VW. We'd drive out to the beach, to Mastic Long Island, to Manhattan, everywhere.

Joanie was my real first true love. There was Gerry before her, but that was love at the age of sixteen. Initially I think Joanie loved me, but as we moved along in the relationship, I needed her more than she needed me. I think I took her as a hostage. What did I know? I knew I loved her and didn't want to be away from her. I wanted Joanie to be the one. The one who I would do it with first. We came real close one night at my cousin Paulie's house, but I guess she got scared and asked me not to. I was never a brute so I respected that. But how I wished she would've said yes. We never came that close to doing it again.


I used to take her only to the best places, like the dump. I was helping my Uncle Ralph tear down walls in his house which generated alot of debris. We would make nightly trips to the dump to get rid of it all. Joanie was always there hangin out and never really complained. She just wanted to be with me. Joanie was with me in Mastic when we had the scare of our lives.


We went boating one day. Paulie had a motorboat that was pulling a small raft, which we were in. Paulie, Linda, Lisa Joey, Tommy and Carol were in the boat and me and Joanie were in the raft. We got out of the inlet and into the sound when a large boat cut across our bow. The wake caused a wave to come down on the front of the boat. When I looked up I saw people in the water, the propeller screaming, out of the water right above our heads. I pushed Joanie out of the boat and knowing she coudn't swim, put her on my shoulders. The boat kept going around in circles cutting people with the prop blades until Joey jump in the boat and pulled out the choke. There was blood everywhere, Linda had a hole in her had, Paulie had a gash on his arm, right through is devil tatoo, Joey had a wound on his hand, and Joanie had scrapes on her arm. Finally all these boats came out of nowhere and picked us up and brought us to the hospital. Everyone got stitched up. That was quite a day.


I went out with Joanie for over a year then she was moving to Florida cause her Mom was gonna work in a motel on A1A. I really didn't know what to do. I dreaded her going. One Friday night I went to the airport with only the airfare (one way) and went to Daytona. I didn't want to come back. But by then Joanie had changed. I sensed she really didn't want me to stay, not to mention her Mom already bought me a ticket back. So when I went back, it was really all over between us.

I went out with Annie for awhile. I knew a long time that Annie liked me. But it just didn't happen. Then Annie got a job in the city and I was working at Met Life. We used to meet at Madison Square Park and make out alot. Annie would call me at night after her father would give her a hard time and we would meet. I liked Annie alot and still do. But the relationship didn't last very long.

There were a few close encounters with girls, but never materialized into anything. Tina was a one night thing, but she was already going with Mike Manna. I did spend one night at the park with Laura Just. Now this was special. Laura was like untouchable. Even a little mysterious. I never knew much about her only that was good looking. We just talked, but were hangin all over each other that I thought it could lead somewhere. But I met Joanie soon after and that was that.

I went out with Loretta for awhile and went out with Vicki for awhile, I had feelings for both but it just didn't work out.

Now Cindy was a whole 'nother story. I met Cindy while hangin out at Brennen Park. She had just broken up with Danny who I had started hangin with. We were doing the dealing thing with Artie, Joseph and Sloane. Cindy was young. I was 21 and she was 15, but she looked 18. We went out about a year and a half. We got high alot together, mostly smoked alot of pot, but we also did ups and goofballs together. Cindy came with my family to FL once and was a fixture in our house. She used to come to my house after school and wake me up for work in her own special way. There's really no words to express how I felt about, it was all consuming. I did lose my virginity with Cindy. I don't know if it was her first time, she said it was but that kinda stuff never bothered my anyway. What was in the past was just that, past. Then after that first time we did it all the time. I guess that's how it is when your young. We were having sex all the time. Her Mom was really cool. She knew we were having sex and Cindy was after all 15, she could have gotten me arrested. But she understood her daughters decision as well.

I was 21 years old. We had been dating for a year and a half.
I had fixed up the back seat of my VM like a small bed, one night while parking at Juniper we were really into it in the back and I just got the feeling that something wasn't right. Then we went to see "Gone With the Wind" one night It was playing at the Cinemart. She had never seen it. When the show ended, we parked next to my house. We listened to the radio, smoked a little pot and necked. When she told me she didn't want to see me anymore, I wasn't surprised. Sometimes you can feel these things coming. I kept ignoring those feelings. My mind screamed in agony. I gripped the steering wheel as tight as I could. My knuckles were white. I felt incredibly sick to my stomach. The only thing I could say was, "Okay". I was a gracious loser.

After that I went into a downward spiral that I almost never got out of.

I was torn up. Stayed in my room for a long time. Would break down and cry alot, I just couldn't get past it. Then I started using dope. Heroin. Easy enough to get. I began snorting with a friend from work. I saw Cindy only a few times after that. She went out with Artie for awhile. But Artie wanted a relationship with Cindy that resembled my relationship when we went out. Cindy just couldn't do it, she wanted something less restrictive. So that didn't last. I do believe Cindy loved me at one point and maybe still did. She knew I was miserable and she would come by the house (she knew I would be there) just to get laid. That would screw with my head so bad. I was doing alot of drugs then. Ludes in the morning, dope at night, just to stay numb. Finally I tried one more thing. We went upstate to a hotel together. I really don't know why she came. But it didn't rekindle anything and after that weekend we were never together again.

Margaret
I met Margaret on New Years Eve 1976. We were supposed to be couples. Margaret and her husband Mike, Joe and Chris and me and Vicki. But me and Vicki broke up so it was just me. We wound up at Joe’s Dads Bar in Manhattan. We had a great time, me and Margaret really hit it off. But she was married so I never gave it much thought.

So when her husband died, I thought It was a good time to make a move.  (there is a back story here regarding M and her story, maybe another time). We had a double date with Joe and Chris and went to dinner at O'Neils. After which we wound up on the floor of Joe's van makin' out. We hit it off. I started seeing more and more of her. She lived on Governors Island, I was working at Met Life, second shift, so I would come over and stay the night.

We hung out on the island for as long as the government allowed us then we moved to Middle Village.


More to follow...

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All these girls from Middle Village I had feelings for and the one from Glendale, I married.

I always had honest feelings for all of them, some more than others. I felt I never used them, although I think some may have used me. And I still have a place in my heart for all these girls. They all live there. It's where I go to get all this to write it down. There's love there for all of them.

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love,
you make…”

So we come to the end? No not really. There is so much more to tell. So this little narrative is a continuing work in progress. I will continue to add things as I remember them.

I hope you come back from time to time, read as you will, enjoy the pictures and relish the memories.
Love, The Author.

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